I have both a warm-weather baby and a cold-weather baby. My oldest, Sophie, arrived on a freezing day in mid-November. I remember because my feet were so swollen I had to wear flipflops home the next morning, and my poor toes were icicles. But my second daughter, Juliette, made her appearance on a glorious, warm afternoon in August. I opened the windows in my hospital room and let the perfect, summertime breeze in.
At the time, I didn’t really consider the difference between my winter (okay, fine, late fall) and summer babies—the newborn days are challenging no matter the temperature— but when Juliette turned one and we held her birthday party, I remember thinking, “holy crap, this is so much easier!” We did a simple backyard barbecue complete with baby-covered- in-cake pictures where the mess stayed outside. The kids played water games and ate popsicles. Our friends stayed until late in the evening, just sitting under the stars, laughing and talking. It was a complete 180 from Sophie’s birthday parties where everyone had to cram into our house, and every room looked like the Tazmanian Devil was in attendance after all was said and done.
As I was cleaning up from Sophie’s party last November, I got to thinking: What if we did Soph’s birthday outside next year? Sure, it’s cold, but cold doesn’t have to mean miserable, right? With that in mind, here are five ways to take the festivities outdoors.
Red Rover, Capture the Flag or full- body Rock, Paper, Scissors are amazing ways to get everyone on their feet. Split party guests into teams, explain the rules and let them loose. If your guests are under the age of five, or if your outdoor area isn’t enclosed, pair young ones up with older kids or adults. If the birthday you’re celebrating is deep into the winter months, consider skating or tobogganing as a party activity.
Snow on the ground? No problem. Hello, snowman-building competition. Or, grab some snow paint and draw out a dodgeball court or hopscotch game. If you’re too early for snow, use found objects to create an obstacle course or scavenger hunt.
In many municipalities, you can rent a firepit in a park. Start a bonfire early, so it’s really going by the time your guests arrive, and have hot chocolate and coffee or cider ready to roll. Plan food that works over an open flame, too—think hot dogs, grilled cheese, fruit skewers and marshmallows (s’mores in winter? Where do we sign up?).
Instead of typical loot bags, think about how to help your guests have a good time outside. Hit up your local dollar store for extra hats and mitts for kid guests, and pick up insulated coffee cups for the grownups.
No one wants to cut and serve cake in the cold. Go for cupcakes if your kiddo insists on cakey goodness (no serving knife or forks required) or if you have snow, try your hand at maple sugar candy.
Originally published in the Winter 2018 issue.